Happy 60th Birthday Oprah!
There aren’t many people in the world who are instantly recognizable by their first names. Oprah is one of them. She celebrated her birthday today and in the course of her remarkable life journey has scored success after success in many different aspects of human endeavor.
I know that from my personal experience when she had me as a guest on her show on October 23rd, 2008. It was one of the most amazing and humbling experiences of my life that I still remember to date.
Newspaper and magazine writers have run out of superlatives to describe her attributes and her accomplishments. She rose to worldwide fame with her award-winning talk show The Oprah Winfrey Show, one of the highest rated programs in broadcast history.
She’s been rated the most influential woman in the world.
She’s the richest African-American of the 20 century.
One of the greatest philanthropist in American history.
North America’s only African-American billionaire.
Star, not only of the small screen, but also the big screen.
Recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom…and on and on.
And a genuinely nice person.
Here’s what I think, what entrepreneurs can learn from Oprah.
Genuine. She’s the real deal. When she invited me to appear on her show I discovered that she was just as gracious and charming behind the scenes as she was on camera. She welcomed my family who were in the audience. Just imagine how special that was for them. A hard-working immigrant family from India being respected by one of the biggest celebrities in the world.
Relevant. Oprah has always stayed relevant—even today. She might have hit the ripe old of 60 but she is a social media star posting photographs and comments on her daily activities
Motivational. She is one of the most inspirational and motivational people of our age. As President Obama said, in giving her the Presidential Medal of Freedom, “Her greatest strength has always been her ability to see the best in ourselves.”
Passionate. Oprah’s passion has been on display in everything that she has done. As Lucy Kaylin, editor of O magazine says, “She is the least complacent person I know. She is a searcher and a seeker and is as excited about life as she was years ago.”
Not a quitter. Believe it or not Oprah has endured her share of failure. She was once—in her early twenties–fired from her position as co-anchor of the evening news at a major Baltimore TV station. And even though she went through humiliating experiences doing lesser jobs she persevered until she found her true niche. She once said, “Go ahead. Fall down. The world looks different from the ground.”
Follow Your Gut. Another philosophy of her’s I love, because it is one of I have embraced my entire life, is this: “Your gut is your inner compass. Whenever you have to consult with other people for an answer, you’re headed in the wrong direction.”
Take risks. Oprah has always pushed the envelope. She’s not been afraid to take on big controversial issues. But at the end of the day they catapulted her further up the ladder of success.
Love what you do. If you feel like you’re a square peg in a round hole—you’re in trouble. Oprah says that you are much more likely to be successful if you would happily do your job and not be paid for it.
Take responsibility. You have to be in charge of your own life. You can’t expect others to do it for you. You own your life. It’s your life to live and you have to give a minimum of 100 percent.
Choose friends wisely. Oprah is renowned for having a tight circle of really close friends—many of whom were friends before she hit the big time. Her advice is to surround yourself only with people who are going to be supportive and uplifting. Those that want your dreams to come true as badly as you do. Keep negative people at bay. They’re not your friends.
Her success is no accident. These attributes have shaped the person that she is and have justifiably propelled her to the forefront of modern culture and made her one of the richest and most influential women in the world. These are attributes that any would-be entrepreneur should take to heart and seek to emulate.
Happy Birthday Oprah, and thank you for having me and my family on your show.
For those that would like to see that interview you can see it on YouTube here: